Bullet Points: 10 to Midnight
10 to Midnight may be the most unique film that Charles Bronson made during his Cannon era. What made the movie unique was not Charles Bronson. Bronson knew what his fans wanted and he delivered. He was his usual hard ass character who is not afraid to bend the law in order to see that justice is served. What was unique about 10 to Midnight was the gratuitous amount of nudity, blood and a villain that once you see, you can never unsee.
- The Premise: Charles Bronson plays an L.A. cop by the name of Leo Kessler. When one of his daughter’s friends is murdered by a troubled young man named Warren Stacy, Kessler makes it his mission to take down the pervert by any means necessary. Kessler is assigned a young and inexperienced partner to investigate the murder, Paul McAnn (played by Andrew Stevens). Kessler isn’t thrilled to be saddled with a rookie detective and McAnn is not a fan of some of the rules that Kessler is so cavalier about breaking. But the two put their differences aside when the murderous Stacy (Gene Davis) goes after Kessler’s daughter, Laurie (Lisa Eilbacher).
- A Villain Like No Other: Gene Davis does an excellent job as the sexually twisted and disturbed Warren Stacy. Warren Stacy is definitely a character that leaves a lasting impression on the audience, if for no other reason than he spends so much of his time in the nude. Not wanting to get blood evidence on his clothes, Stacy strips before he stabs. I can’t recall seeing a serial killer use that technique in any other movie but you have to hand it to him for his ingenuity. Warren knows damn well Leo Kessler isn’t playing by the rules when Leo “finds” blood on Warren’s clothes.
- Better Call Dante: Geoffrey Lewis lends his talents to 10 to Midnight playing Warren Stacy’s slime ball attorney, Dave Dante. After seeing Lewis play the good guy sidekick so many times in movies like Double Impact and Only the Strong, it was nice to see him get a chance to play a character on the other side. Dave Dante is all about winning cases, no matter the actual guilt or innocence of his clients. Dante is also the type of lawyer who is not afraid to play the insanity card if need be but he never has to play that card. Leo Kessler admits to tampering with evidence and the case against Warren Stacy is thrown out, Dante wins by default. But the results of the trial only serves to add more fuel to the Leo Kessler/Warren Stacy fire!
- Private War: Leo Kessler’s detective days are all but over after his admission of evidence tampering, but being a private citizen is not going to stop Leo Kessler from going after Warren Stacy. Leo begins to play mind games with the demented Warren by following him all around town. This only pushes Warren further off the deep end and leads to the gruesome final act of the film with Warren killing multiple women in order to get to Laurie Kessler and Leo Kessler’s ultimate response to the psycho killer!
Charles Bronson is at his Charles Bronson best in 10 to Midnight. He’s a cop, he’s a vigilante, he’s a vigilante cop! Cannon surrounded Bronson with a great supporting cast, possibly the best he ever worked with in his Cannon years. But I think the real shining star of the supporting cast was Lisa Eilbacher. Eilbacher’s Laurie Kessler is tough, she’s smart and she is not afraid to go toe to toe with dear old dad.
I am a big fan of 10 to Midnight. I highly recommend it and rank it among Bronson’s better films of the 1980’s.
Now before I wrap up this movie review, I have some Bonus Bullet Points to share…
- If You Ever: …wanted to hear Charles Bronson say “It’s for jacking off isn’t it?” then this is the movie for you. The line comes when Leo Kessler rhetorically questions Warren Stacy about the sex toy he found in Stacy’s apartment and exactly what it was used for.
- Worst Pick Up Line Ever?: Among Warren Stacy’s habits is calling women and talking dirty to them on the phone, but he does so with a Spanish accent. Exotic! He also uses this line… “Call me Pedro. That means Peter. I got the biggest one you’ve ever seen.”
- Hello Nurse: Ola Ray played one of Laurie Kessler’s fellow nursing students named Ola. Ola Ray was a former Playboy Playmate of the Month (June 1980 if you are Googling) and also starred as Michael Jackson’s girlfriend in the groundbreaking music video for “Thriller”… Kelly Preston (credited as Kelly Palzis) had her first feature film role playing Doreen, another of Laurie’s fellow nursing students. Preston would go on to star in films like 52 Pick Up, From Dusk Til Dawn and Death Sentence.
- Reunited: Charles Bronson and Andrew Stevens were no strangers to one another on the set of 10 to Midnight. The two previously worked together in 1981’s Death Hunt also starring Lee Marvin and Carl Weathers…. 10 to Midnight also gave us a Charles Bronson and Wilford Brimley reunion. Brimley plays Kessler’s boss Captain Malone in 10 to Midnight, but had previously worked with Bronson in 1980’s Borderline.
- Scary Good: The psychotic killer and grisly murders make 10 to Midnight a favorite among fans of slasher movies.